Good News for Our Communities
The ministry of Jesus is marked by a number of noteworthy things. People with all manner of infirmities were made whole by Jesus whether by His touch or words. Our Lord also had compassion on those considered the least and the lowest by societal standards. He also demonstrated power of creation, such as stilling the storm or feeding the masses. However, the most important part of Jesus’ ministry was the message that He came to bring. When the imprisoned John the Baptist sends his disciples to inquire if Jesus is the Messiah, our Lord responds by saying “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”
While our Lord ascended to the Father’s right hand long ago, His Kingdom still comes among us also as the Good News of His salvation is preached. The Gospel literally means Good News. It is also where we draw the word evangelism, which is nothing more than telling the Good News of Jesus to others. In a culture of conflict, where fears and anxiety over the future run rampant, Christ’s Church has the countless opportunities to speak Good News of hope in Christ.
While the theme for this issue of The VOICE is preparing for summer Vacation Bible Schools, it is part of our District emphasis on engaging our communities. For our congregations and schools, community engagement is never just about helping people in need or caring for children. Our purpose in engaging our communities is always to confess Christ, telling the Good News to children and adults alike.
Our reason for having this theme featured this time of year is that congregations can make plans for reaching their community through Vacation Bible School programs. We hope that congregation leaders can see that VBS events come in different shapes and sizes and are often done collaboratively with other congregations and even in multiple locations. Perhaps this issue will help your congregation to consider a new way of serving children through Vacation Bible School programs.
As a college student, I was a summer intern at a church in Atlanta and had the task of organizing Vacation Bible Schools in neighborhoods and at an apartment complex. Some of the events were multiple days, others were one morning or afternoon and none of them took place at the church. The whole focus was the Good News being preached throughout the community. May God bless your community through your congregations proclamation of this Good News to all.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan
Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was elected as the fifth president of the Missouri District-LCMS in 2015. He is a 1992 graduate of Concordia College (now University), Seward, Nebraska. He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Master of Divinity in 1996 and Doctor of Ministry in 2011. Dr. Hagan served as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Indiana from 1996-2002. In 2002, he was called to serve as senior pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Concordia, Missouri until he was elected district president. Additionally, he served as the Interim Director of LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission from 2011-2012. He has previously served as Missouri District first vice-president from 2012-2015, fourth vice-president from 2011-2012, and chairman of the Board for Congregational Services from 2006-2011. He has presented workshops and retreats on a host of ministry topics including elders, rural ministry, outreach and ministry to inactives. He has written articles for Lutheran Witness, Concordia Historical Quarterly and Missio Apostolica. He has led mission trips to Cambodia, China, Guatemala and the Bahamas. Dr. Hagan is married to Jill (nee Johnson), who works as a speech-language pathologist. They have two children, Caroline and Jack.